Randy George is one of a small handful of musicians in the world today that can carry the title of Theremin virtuoso. Joined by a variety of musicians, Randy will demonstrate the Theremin’s musical range – from sounding like a human voice, a stringed instrument, a wind instrument and more. Difficult to master, this concert will be a rare opportunity to experience first hand the beauty of this innovative and pioneering instrument.
Randy has dedicated his life as a musician to mastering the Theremin. Randy holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and is best known for his contributions to the escalating worldwide awareness of the Theremin online. His video creations featuring the Theremin in a variety of musical contexts have been seen by over 20 million people.
The theremin is one of the earliest electronic musical instruments. It is the only instrument in the world that is played continuously, without any physical contact. It was developed in the 1920’s by Russian scientist and inventor Lev Sergeyevich Termen as a direct product of his innovations in radio physics and his musical past as a concert cellist. The player of a theremin uses his arms and hands to influence two capacitive spaces surrounding the instrument in order to continuously influence its pitch and loudness. The tone can range from sounding like a human voice or stringed instrument to a wind instrument depending on variations in vibrato, portamento, and articulation. Due to its unconventional interface and lack of spacial reference, the theremin is known to be extremely difficult to master as a melodic instrument. The craft of theremin playing demands a highly refined set of skills requiring both musical proficiency and Zen-like mastery of body stillness and control.
Historically, the theremin was intended to be a melodic musical instrument much like the violin or cello, but the combination of difficulty and playing interface naturally led it to be used more as a sound effect. The typical approach to creating a sound on early theremins involved the player sustaining an agitated shake of the wrist. This created a very distinct sound evoking a sense of otherworldliness and fear that ultimately became the iconic sound of early 40’s and 50’s Hollywood science fiction and horror movie soundtracks. Most notably, this theremin sound was used in Bernard Herrmann’s score from “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and Miklós Rózsa’s score from “Spellbound”.
Over the past twenty years, there has been a surge in awareness of the theremin and it is currently undergoing a renaissance, especially in the context of modern composition and live performance. Although it still seems novel and obscure, there has never before been more people interested in the theremin, composing music for theremin, or playing the theremin than there are in the world today.